i'm not sure where the inspiration to make homemade tortillas came from (especially since i don't have a tortilla press, which makes the whole process a lot easier) , but as soon as i discovered the how doable the tortilla-making-process was, i was sold! i decided to use bob's red mills masa harina because it's what was available to me at my local grocery store. however, after reading this article i will be sure to buy blue corn masa harina. in any event, the tortilla making session started off like any good project: on the living room floor. it's the largest one area we have in our little apartment, and i wanted room to make a mess! (don't worry, there were plenty of towels, and bowls, and mats between the tortilla ingredients and the floor.)
as i sat there and mixed the 3 ingredients it takes to make these tortillas, i thought how wonderfully simple and gratifying it was to literally sit with my ingredients and work them with my hands. it reminded me when i was in the 4th grade. we were learning about native american cultures, and one of our class projects was to make tortilla chips. i recalled doing something similar: sitting on the floor, with less than a handful of ingredients, and working those few ingredients by hand; grinding our corn into masa, by using a mortar and pestle. i remember thinking how awesome is was making something in today's time, that a native culture made hundreds of years ago. that thought came back to me as i sat on my living room floor. take away the tv, couch, air conditioner, camera, and cell phone, and imagined i was making my tortillas in a much less technologically stimulated time. if only for a couple of minutes.
do not be intimidated by the lengthy process of these making tortillas, if you have the time they are definitely worth making. if you have a tortilla press, the process is a little easier and a lot shorter. and lastly, if you want to decrease the amount of time you're spending rolling each tortilla out, cut each ball into 4 pieces instead of 8, and make larger tortillas. tortillas lend themselves to so may awesome things, plus these corn ones are gluten free!
homemade corn tortillas
technique adapted from Bob's Red Mills & Edible Perspective
| makes 16 small tortillas
2 cups masa harina
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups hot water
- parchment paper
- rolling pin (you will not need this if you have a tortilla press)
- round, flat bottomed baking dish or bowl (i used my tea kettle [if you have a tortilla press, skip this] )
- in a large bowl, combine the masa harina and salt with a whisk. add 1 cup of the hot water - stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine
- at this point you will notice that the dough is sticking to the spoon; set the spoon aside and use your hands; work the dough for about 2 minutes - until it's soft and springy. if your dough is dry and crumbly, add hot water a tablespoon at a time until you have reached a smooth dough (i ended up using about 1 1/4 cup of water, but it depends on the weather and conditions in your house- no two doughs are alike)
- form the dough into a ball, cover with a tea towel and let it rest for about a 1-2 hours
while you're waiting for the dough, prepare by getting your parchment paper ready. you will need: 2, 8x8" pieces for rolling the dough, and 16, 6" pieces to prevent the uncooked tortillas from sticking to one another. set aside.
- uncover your dough and cut into two evenly sized pieces - form into two balls. cut each ball into 4 even pieces and then divide the into eighths. in the end you will have 16 pieces
- if the outer part of your dough was a little rough, like mine was, coat your hands with a little bit of water and roll the crescent shaped doughs into balls
- as you roll, cover the balls with your towel to prevent them from drying out
- one at a time, roll out each piece of dough between the 8x8 pieces of parchment, roll to about an 1/8" thickness. gently remove the top piece of parchment; take one of your 16 smaller pieces of parchment, place on top of tortilla, invert and gently peel the larger piece off the tortilla. repeat with remaining tortillas, stacking them on top of one another as you go along
- heat a dry skillet to a medium heat. one at a time place the tortillas on the skillet and cook for 45 seconds - 1 minute (my sweet spot was just around 47/48 seconds), until they're slightly browned (be careful not to overcook them, as they will tear or become crunchy when you try to roll them.)
- remove tortilla and place a towel over to keep warm; repeat with remaining tortillas
- you can use them right away, or refrigerate them for up to a week in an air tight container
there are endless ways to use these tortillas, so have fun and enjoy!